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Re: CDPH Press Release: Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome Found in Two California Residents

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avatar CDPH Press Release: Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome Found in Two California Residents
August 16, 2012 11:35AM
CDPH Press Release: Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome Found in Two California Residents
Date: August 16, 2012

SACRAMENTO - The recent diagnosis of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) in two Californians, one of whom died, has prompted Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and state public health officer, to remind Californians to take precautions to prevent exposure to the virus that causes HPS at their places of residence, work, and recreation.

"Hantavirus is a rare but serious disease spread by rodents," Chapman said. "This disease can frequently become fatal, but there are steps you can take to reduce your exposure."

Public health officials believe the two recent patients might have been exposed to mice droppings or urine that contained hantavirus while vacationing at Curry Village in Yosemite National Park.

CDPH and Yosemite National Park Public Health Service officers routinely conduct rodent surveillance to monitor deer mouse abundance and virus activity in mouse populations. Yosemite also conducts routine rodent proofing inspections of buildings and facilities throughout the park. Not all deer mice carry hantavirus, but deer mice with hantavirus have been found throughout the United States.

With recommendations from CDPH, Yosemite National Park has increased routine measures to reduce the risk of hantavirus exposure to Park visitors. These efforts include regular thorough inspection and cleaning of rooms and cabins, exclusion of deer mice and other rodents from buildings, maintaining good housekeeping and sanitation levels to discourage rodent infestations, and public education.

Since HPS was first identified in 1993, there have been 60 cases in California and 587 cases nationally. About one third of HPS cases identified in California were fatal. The two recent cases bring the total California case count for 2012 to four. Case-patients have been exposed to hantavirus in many areas in California where deer mice live, particularly from the eastern Sierra Nevada region and at higher elevations.

HPS is caused by a virus that individuals get through contact with the urine, droppings or saliva of infected wild mice, primarily deer mice. Breathing small particles of mouse urine or droppings that have been stirred up into the air is the most common means of acquiring infection. The illness starts one to six weeks after exposure with fever, headache, and muscle ache, and progresses rapidly to severe difficulty in breathing and, in some cases, death.

When you are in wilderness areas or places that harbor mice, you can take the following steps to prevent HPS:
  • Avoid areas, especially indoors, where wild rodents are likely to have been present.
  • Keep food in tightly sealed containers and store away from rodents.
  • Keep rodents out of buildings by removing stacked wood, rubbish piles, and discarded junk from around homes and sealing any holes where rodents could enter.
  • If you can clean your sleeping or living area, open windows to air out the areas for at least two hours before entering. Take care not to stir up dust. Wear plastic gloves and spray areas contaminated with rodent droppings and urine with a 10% bleach solution or other household disinfectants and wait at least 15 minutes before cleaning the area. Place the waste in double plastic bags, each tightly sealed, and discard in the trash. Wash hands thoroughly afterward.
  • Do not touch or handle live rodents and wear gloves when handling dead rodents. Spray dead rodents with a disinfectant and dispose of in the same way as droppings. Wash hands thoroughly after handling dead rodents.
  • If there are large numbers of rodents in a home or other buildings, contact a pest control service to remove them.
For additional information on preventing HPS, visit CDPH's Hantavirus Cardiopulmonary Syndrome and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Hatavirus Web site page.
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eeek

Public health officials believe the two recent patients might have been exposed to mice droppings or urine that contained hantavirus while vacationing at Curry Village in Yosemite National Park.


How can one NOT be exposed to mice droppings or urine at Curry Village? Curry's lodging accommodations have been infested by these deer mice as long as I can remember.


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With recommendations from CDPH, Yosemite National Park has increased routine measures to reduce the risk of hantavirus exposure to Park visitors. These efforts include regular thorough inspection and cleaning of rooms and cabins, exclusion of deer mice and other rodents from buildings, maintaining good housekeeping and sanitation levels to discourage rodent infestations, and public education.


I'll give NPS and DNC some credit, they seem to making a better effort these past five years of plugging up entry ways from the outside to inside the guest rooms at Curry Village so it's harder for the mice to enter the cabins.


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Since HPS was first identified in 1993, there have been 60 cases in California and 587 cases nationally. About one third of HPS cases identified in California were fatal. The two recent cases bring the total California case count for 2012 to four. Case-patients have been exposed to hantavirus in many areas in California where deer mice live, particularly from the eastern Sierra Nevada region and at higher elevations.

HPS is caused by a virus that individuals get through contact with the urine, droppings or saliva of infected wild mice, primarily deer mice. Breathing small particles of mouse urine or droppings that have been stirred up into the air is the most common means of acquiring infection. The illness starts one to six weeks after exposure with fever, headache, and muscle ache, and progresses rapidly to severe difficulty in breathing and, in some cases, death.

When you are in wilderness areas or places that harbor mice, you can take the following steps to prevent HPS:
  • Avoid areas, especially indoors, where wild rodents are likely to have been present.
  • Keep food in tightly sealed containers and store away from rodents.
  • Keep rodents out of buildings by removing stacked wood, rubbish piles, and discarded junk from around homes and sealing any holes where rodents could enter.
  • If you can clean your sleeping or living area, open windows to air out the areas for at least two hours before entering. Take care not to stir up dust. Wear plastic gloves and spray areas contaminated with rodent droppings and urine with a 10% bleach solution or other household disinfectants and wait at least 15 minutes before cleaning the area. Place the waste in double plastic bags, each tightly sealed, and discard in the trash. Wash hands thoroughly afterward.
  • Do not touch or handle live rodents and wear gloves when handling dead rodents. Spray dead rodents with a disinfectant and dispose of in the same way as droppings. Wash hands thoroughly after handling dead rodents.
  • If there are large numbers of rodents in a home or other buildings, contact a pest control service to remove them.


I wonder if DNC's housekeeping workers at Curry Village and the Lodge thoroughly and regularly clean the guest rooms as recommended by the above guidelines.

(I hope they do.)

.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/16/2012 08:38PM by plawrence.
wow what an article. It's a rememinder that not only can the river kill but so can mice. Damn that's harsh. I hope that more comes out of this story as in how exactly was the disease contracted i.e. dirty bed linens.
I am more worried about getting bed bugs from dirty bed linens than the hantavirus.

If you read the scientific reports, they almost always say that most of the time no one knows exactly how someone contacts it. I guess that one true way of knowing how you got it is if you had been cleaning up a mouse infected area that had mice that carried the virus and you did not take the precautions. Even plugging up every hole and opening will not alway prevent mice coming into a room in a park. I can't tell you how many times we have had mice run into the room at Curry and Yosemite lodge while we were bringing in our luggage. Heck we have even found a dead rat under a bed at one of the Ahwanee Cottages. This has also happened to us while staying in other parks; bottom line is that you are in the "outside". The only thing that can be done is to try to keep the mice out of buildings, remove things that attract mice and keep thing clean and be careful in cleaning up mice droppings.

I had a friend call that lives in LA in a huge panic this morning because her son and husband had stayed in a Curry tent cabin a week or so ago. She thought that this was the first time that the virus had been detected in Yosemite and I had to explain to her that it has been detected there for years and that millions of people have been in Yosemite during that time and there have only been a few cases where people contracted it but if she is really worried about it than call her doctor. She did not know that there have been cases in other states and even in LA and that it is not just a Yosemite issue.
It's the remote ranger cabins that go unoccupied for several months each year that have the greatest problem. They get sprayed down with the bleach solution prior to use. Mice don't have to have food available in a building, they like the shelter.



Old Dude
I've spent one night at Rainier's Camp Muir cabin. Mice _everywhere_ once night fell.

That was where I woke up a little after 5 and saw the most incredible red sunrise ever...hurriedly had breakfast, packed up, and rushed down the mountain as a storm followed me down the slope.
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parklover

I can't tell you how many times we have had mice run into the room at Curry and Yosemite lodge while we were bringing in our luggage.


That's never happened to me. What's happened is just the opposite: mice scurry back outside when they see us moving the luggage inside the room. (Of course, they might come back at night to check to see if we inadvertently left out any "goodies" for them.)


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Heck we have even found a dead rat under a bed at one of the Ahwanee Cottages.


Oh, that must have been sweet!

Did you call housekeeping to dispose of the dead rat? If you did, what did they say?

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When I worked/lived in Wawona, mice were an everyday fact of life and we just tried to keep food scraps away from them. Hantavirus was not known at the time, or we would have been some paranoid people. When I moved to Yellowstone, they were far worse and one of my first tool purchases was tin snips so I could block their entrance routes with parts of tin cans. I even heard them chewing the insulation off the wiring inside the walls. After I left the park, mouse encounters dropped off to one every 4-5 years, but we take them serious. Sorry to hear of the hantavirus exposure.
That was the stay that we jokingly called "Survivor: The Ahwahnee." That there was a dead rat in the room is not what bothered us, it was the fact that it was a dead rat in a trap that had been there so long that it looked like beef jerky. The room was filthy and it was evident that they had not done a good job of cleaning up and prepping the room after the last guests and we were paying all that money to stay there. I went to use a glass and it had dried milk in it, there was not one roll of toilet paper and the list goes on from there.

We were staying in one of those cottages with a fireplace and the first night ended up having to use a Swiss Army knive to make kindling to start the fire because they did not have the wood in the fireplace ready to start like they usually do when you stay there or at any upgrade hotel that have fireplaces in the rooms. Good thing we have experience in building fires both in campgrounds and fireplaces because after waiting 2 hours for them to deliver some kindling we decided not to wait any longer and built one ourselves. There were also no matches but we always carry some or else we would have tried some other method of making fire. No fireplace tools so we used a stick to move the logs around when they were burning.

Comment after I handed them the rat in the trap and told them about all of the other issues was " Oh sorry, we are short handed." Sent a 3 page letter on that stay and vowed never to stay at the Ahwahnee again.
Here's another article about the man who contracted HPS and later died from it. The article states that the man and the woman were staying in Curry Village's canvas tent cabins that were in close proximity to each other.

“The man and woman did not know each other, but stayed in close proximity in tent-style cabins during overlapping visits to the national park, Cobb said.”

KTVU.COM: Alameda County Health investigating death of area man following Yosemite visit

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Saw a ranger getting checked for the virus, said she was exposed and had symptoms. Hopefully we don't read a story about her soon
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ryanmj
Saw a ranger getting checked for the virus, said she was exposed and had symptoms. Hopefully we don't read a story about her soon

Unless you are a health professional at the clinic where the ranger was being tested, she was being irresponsible by telling you that. If you are a health professional where she was tested, posting this is extremely unprofessional and unethical. If she has a confirmed case of HPS then it is up to the CDPH and park officials to release this information to the public. There are enough people in a panic that have visited Yosemite recently without you posting this.
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parklover
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ryanmj

Saw a ranger getting checked for the virus, said she was exposed and had symptoms. Hopefully we don't read a story about her soon

Unless you are a health professional at the clinic where the ranger was being tested, she was being irresponsible by telling you that.


Huh? It's her right to tell anyone she pleases what ails her (or even what she thinks ails her).


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parklover

If she has a confirmed case of HPS then it is up to the CDPH and park officials to release this information to the public.


Huh? Again, there's been no gag order issued, so the ranger is free to tell anyone she wants about her sickness.


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parklover

There are enough people in a panic that have visited Yosemite recently without you posting this.


That's neither the ranger's nor Ryan's problem. If those people are in a panic then they should just visit their local doctor to assuage their fears.

What the media in general has reported about the two confirmed cases of CDPH has done far more to create any sort of panic than what Ryan had just posted.

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parklover
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ryanmj
Saw a ranger getting checked for the virus, said she was exposed and had symptoms. Hopefully we don't read a story about her soon

Unless you are a health professional at the clinic where the ranger was being tested, she was being irresponsible by telling you that. If you are a health professional where she was tested, posting this is extremely unprofessional and unethical. If she has a confirmed case of HPS then it is up to the CDPH and park officials to release this information to the public. There are enough people in a panic that have visited Yosemite recently without you posting this.

None of the above.

Overreact much?
Over reaction, maybe in some people’s eye. More like gut reaction from decades of employment training, history and experience. Sorry but you got the lecture when in hind sight a comment in a jokingly tone would have made the point and gone over better. My bad.
Park officials releasing information to the public? Are you kidding me? Let me spell it out for you.

The Yosemite Park officials have been given recommendations by state officials to do more in educating the park visitors about Hantavirus. This includes state report documents dated 2007 and 2010. The only education that has been taking place has been between the park and employees, per OSHA I assume. This includes a lecture in April entitled "Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome in Yosemite Park." Additional training occurred in May when it was learned that an employee at another nearby park ignored safety protocol, resulting in a helicopter ride to Reno, while they were in critical condition.

Yet the park has not been educating visitors about Hantavirus? Why not? Because it is rare you say? It is rare, but severe. But hey, what's a death or two? So what if the victim had a family, right? Wrong. Everyone deserves a chance at life. We do our risk assessment and act accordingly. No one said to shut down the park. This isn't the movie Jaws. We're not proposing closing the beaches on 4th of July weekend. How about a simple pamphlet/leaflet? Is that too much to ask? So now we're going to shut people up, citing them as being irresponsible? Yosemite has been irresponsible. In 1999, it took a congressional hearing to get the NPS to educate visitors to the Channel Islands about the Hanta risk there. Why is the NPS goes kicking and screaming when asked to simply educate the visitors in the same way that it educates the employees? Are we worried that the attendance might drop? Is that the real reason? Again, the movie Jaws comes to mind. Food for thought-with so little education, it is possible there have been more hanta cases, but that they were never diagnosed. Even infectious disease doctors don't know to look for it when a patient's platelets have plummeted and an atypical pneumonia is present for a previously young and health individual.

Education is the ONLY protection from this very fatal disease that has no cure other than supportive care, and Yosemite failed to educate the visitors about this hazard known to be in the park, in and around the cabins. Imagine this. Trained park employees wearing respirator masks and using bleach are needed to decon the living quarters. But when the visitors show up, they have no clue about the hazard that exists. Everything looks hunky dory. Just watch out for them thar bears and poison oak. Education is key because no decon will get it all. The droppings are everywhere. Education is key because once symptoms kick in, you have little time.

Some of your time will have been wasted because the first symptoms are very non-specific, so you are not too worried. But then things begin to change in a hurry. You suspect something is wrong, but if you were never educated about your possible Hanta exposure, you think you can ride it out, so you delay the hospital visit by another day. Then, you begin to have difficulties breathing, so now you seek help. You go to the doctor and if you don't tell them where you have been 6 weeks ago, they might treat you for who knows what, giving you fluids, aggravating the Hanta condition, further filling the lungs of the victim with fluid. With education, the victim might be sent to a tertiary care facility. If not, the inexperienced doctors who do not have the necessary equipment will scramble, trying to make do with what they have. Nothing.

And when the victim succumbs, people will say "At least it is rare." Isn't even one life worth a bit of effort? A piece of paper given to visitors or placed in the tent-cabins?
Please, I don't want to hear about "Park Officials."
Thank you for your post. You make excellent points.

I think it's a big PR problem not so much for the Park Service but for DNC, the concessionaire, since anyone who has stayed regularly at any of DNC's lodgings inside the park knows that they are, to a large degree, infested with the deer mice and other vermin. DNC has always tried to pass this off as if it's part of staying inside a "wilderness" park even though none of Yosemite's lodging is actually located within Yosemite's wilderness.

As I stated earlier in another post, it does appear that DNC is becoming more agressive and pro-active in trying to keep the mice, rats, and other vermin out of their guests' cabins and rooms. I just wonder if they are doing enough. Often times, the sheets inside the guest accommodations look pretty dingy and the floors don't appear to have been thoroughly vacuum cleaned between the guests stays.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/22/2012 11:57PM by plawrence.
Does anyone know if the park ranger will be okay and where she might have come into contact with Hantavirus?
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SteveHall
Does anyone know if the park ranger will be okay and where she might have come into contact with Hantavirus?

I'm a newbie to this cool forum and found it while researching for our very first stay in Yosemite Valley next week.

Hopefully we'll get permits to climb Half Dome and the weather will cooperate! A friend was just there last week and didn't climb HD because there were threats of rain.

I too am wondering where the infected mice have been captured in Curry Village, and or where the ranger might have gotten infected (hope she's ok).

We're staying in a Signature Tent (Boystown) for 3 nights.

I've read all the "precautions" to help prevent getting contaminated but if there are specific areas to avoid, it would be nice to know!!

Is it possible those that recently got infected ingested the contaminates at a food service in the Valley?
avatar Re: CDPH Press Release: Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome Found in Two California Residents
August 24, 2012 01:03PM
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HD2012
A friend was just there last week and didn't climb HD because there were threats of rain.

I'm glad he paid attention to the weather. Last week would not have been a good time to be up there.
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Is it possible those that recently got infected ingested the contaminates at a food service in the Valley?

The virus is picked up by breathing the airborne particles of mice feces and dried urine. Spraying any areas that might have mice feces or urine with a bleach solution or Lysol will kill the virus. Don't dry sweep as that will stir up the dust. Getting the virus outside of any permanent structure is very very unlikely.



Old Dude



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/24/2012 01:34PM by mrcondron.
Thank you all for the advice & information.

We plan on checking in early so that we can inspect the Signature tent before hauling all our gear into it-if we see any signs we'll notify the staff.

My friend that opted not to climb HD last week is an avid hiker/backpacker and is the only person I know that could say he slept in the Statue of Liberty (when he used to work there as a teen) because he missed the last ferry boat!! lol

Have a great weekend!

Oh great-
Today's NPS press release says "Signature Tent Cabins" (where the virus outbreak occured)!

No one on the phone would tell me when I asked a week ago when I had a choice of the Signature tent (Boystown) or the regular canvas tents so it was a 50/50 call.

I realize they've been cleaning things up for the past couple of weeks.

In your opinion should I insist on getting a non "Signature Tent" because of the news released today??

Thanks for all you help/advice/suggestions in advance!

HD2012



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/27/2012 09:14PM by HD2012.
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HD2012

Is it possible those that recently got infected ingested the contaminates at a food service in the Valley?


My opinion, an extremely small risk bordering on zero since the food service areas of the dining establishments inside Yosemite Valley appear to be kept very clean and sanitary. The floors of the food areas of the dining establishments appear to be cleaned thoroughly on a daily basis.

The concern is in the sleeping quarters of the guests, the cabins (including the tent cabins) and hotel rooms. If you see any signs of mouse droppings in your tent cabin, I would contact Curry Village's front desk for housekeeping to clean, disinfect, and remove it safely from your cabin. (And be sure not to leave any sort of food (or even empty food wrappers) inside your tent cabin. Store them in the provide nearby food storage lockers.)

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Also, I found this article which talks about Hantavirus testing in Yosemite a couple of years ago. It goes into specifics and gives some interesting details.

http://www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/vbds/Documents/PreventingVBDinNationalParksinCA.pdf

It's on page 27 (or 25 of the article). And there were some recommendations made to the park on pages 28 & 29 that were hopefully carried out, like...

• Inspections for rodent infestations and appropriate exclusion efforts, particularly for buildings where people sleep, should be enhanced. When found, nesting materials and harborage should be removed from within and around buildings.
• In addition to enhancing rodent exclusion efforts in buildings, an active trapping program (using snap traps and appropriate disinfection and disposal measures) should be standard practice for buildings with a history or high risk of infestation.
• Staff should be adequately trained in the appropriate procedures for removing and handling rodents and preventing HPS. Staff may wish to consult with VBDS for appropriate procedures when opening seasonal buildings each spring as overwintering mouse populations can create significant infestations in these buildings.

I used some of the information found in that article from the Death Valley section when recently writing a short article to help warn Death Valley hikers about the danger of Hantavirus. If you want to read my article, it is here--

http://panamintcity.com/wordpress/?p=372



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/22/2012 11:02PM by SteveHall.
Here's a map that shows the cumulative total of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome reported by state as of July 2, 2012:


(This chart probably does NOT include that two new California cases reported earlier this month)
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